Every organization is familiar with it: projects that fail. Often this is caused by problems and risks that are tackled with temporary solutions, which eventually jeopardize the success of the entire project – often with disastrous effect. In this article, we focus on five guidelines to increase the success rate of projects, and how project portfolio management can be useful in that pursuit.
1. Focus on what the project delivers
What is the added value that the project delivers? How will the execution take place? Which organizational changes are required? How are the benefits of the project realized? Make sure this is covered in a project plan, so that you can rely on it during implementation. After all, a project can be perfectly executed but if the added value is minimal, it is a waste of all the resources spent.
2. Score all initiatives for their strategic contribution
In addition, it is important to link the project to the strategic objectives. Formulate these objectives so that it is clear how both managers and individual employees contribute with their work to it. Without that strategic translation, it is difficult to successfully select and implement projects. A good project portfolio management process is an excellent way to take this first step.
3. Make project results measurable
Another way to involve employees in projects is to make results measurable. Clear criteria must be drawn up before the start of the project to do so. By outlining the scope in advance, you prevent the project from delivering anything else than what was planned. So-called “benefit management” is a part of project portfolio management that comes in handy: what do I want to achieve, and did we actually realized these benefits? Closely monitor this during and after the project. The lessons learned from this exercise is very valuable for reviewing future project plans.
4. Plan projects consistently and keep evaluating
Inadequate planning is one of the main reasons why projects get out of control. Therefore, plan clearly and realistic. Keep on monitoring whether the planning is feasible. Are there sufficient resources available? What is the impact on the overall project portfolio planning? By using a project portfolio management application, the overview of all projects is available to take into account the other projects and planning. With that information it is much easier to make decisions whether changes in the planning are acceptable or should result in putting a project on hold or even cancel it.
5. Support and motivate employees within projects
It goes without saying that projects should be carried out by the highest qualified employees. After all, project teams that consist of people with the right competencies and motivation pay off twice as much. Yet it is better to spread the best people over different projects, so that they can support other employees.
There are several project methods, and the best way differs per organization. But whatever you choose, at least invest in employees: provide regular project updates, do not micro-manage, and keep an overview by periodically monitoring the status of all projects. In addition, ensure a realistic workload, and sometimes adjust the planning. Ultimately, that is much more efficient than continuing to push through projects. That can work out well a few times, but in the longer run, it will cause problems.